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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 1 by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez

Love and Rockets was one of the first "alternative" comics to come out of the 80s, and I have intended for years to read these highly acclaimed books -- but where to start? I knew that the Hernandez brothers created a number of characters they followed over the years and tackled a variety of genres, resulting in an expansive universe. Three weeks ago, while in the library looking for some other books, I saw on the shelves New Stories no. 1, and figured I might as well start there.

And what a place to start. It is a collection of stories by the three brothers (they are now publishing annual trade paperbacks, and this is the first). Gilbert has the most stories, and they are by turns poignant, surreal, serious, and satirical. Mario contributed only one story, a broad satire on colonialism complete with corrupt priests, greedy Spaniards, and stupid Indians. But Jaime's story, a two-parter that bookends the collection, was the standout. He creates a superhero series out of some of his long-standing female characters, and the results are an incredible riff on the superhero genre, combining the pulpy, retro, occasionally goofy feel of 40s comics with feminism and girl power. There are competing teams of mostly female superheroes, and the plot centers around motherhood, in a kick-ass kind of way. There's even a female analogue to Batman, a woman who is inspired by the detective abilities of Miss Marple and who wears a costume to intimidate superstitious and cowardly criminals. And what's the scariest thing a woman could be? Why, old and ugly, of course. This is brilliant. I love, love, love this story. LOVE.

I now have to read every Love and Rockets story, preferably from the beginning.

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